As weather cools, outdoor dining could be on the rise in Phoenix

Posted at 9:31 AM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 12:31:12-04

As the temperatures around Phoenix start to drop, Valley restaurants are looking to expand their outdoor dining options amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This summer, a number of restaurant operators around the country moved their dining rooms from inside to streets, sidewalks, parking lots and alleyways to serve more customers and lower the chances of spreading Covid-19. With 2020 being the hottest summer on record in Phoenix, most Valley restaurants were unable to create an outdoor experience suitable for customers. But now as outdoor dining season is finally arriving in the Valley, many restaurateurs are looking for ways to easily expand their dining beyond the small patio areas they have now.

“There is overwhelming support for outdoor dining. Consumers seem to really like it,” said Mike Whatley the vice president, of state and local affairs at the American Restaurant Association. “Until full-capacity indoor dining is allowed, restaurants are not going to be back to pre-pandemic sales levels. But patio and outdoor dining helps.”

One issue restaurant owners have is that they need to get a lot of peoples’ permission to add outdoor dining. Not only do they have to work with their landlords, it is a city zoning issue and can require approval from the state Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. Getting all the paperwork in, having a public hearing and getting approval could take weeks if not months.

To help speed things up, the Phoenix City Council created a temporary outdoor dining and alcohol consumption program, which will allow restaurants to implement outdoor dining while meeting social distancing requirements and recommendations.

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